I have a guilty admission to make. I’ve never really enjoyed concerts, and I’ve never been very interested in seeing Pagan musicians in concert. Sure, there’s a lot of Pagan musicians whose work I enjoy, but I’m not the kind of person who really goes to concerts. I typically listen to music alone in my own studio when I’m working on a project. I want the perfect sound, just the right song for my mood while I’m working. Music for me isn’t really a social thing.
So I found myself a bit surprised to absolutely enjoy the concert I recently hosted with my friend Amy for Pagan musicians SJ Tucker and Sharon Knight with her partner Winter.
Every once in a while I’ve gone out to Milwaukee Irish Fest and had a good time, but I don’t really consider that going to a concert. And I like dancing to Goth/Industrial music at a club, or techno/trance music at a rave. But that’s not a concert either. Other than that, I’ve only actually intentionally been to a couple of concerts. One was a Cure concert when I was 19. And…that one I kind of went to to impress a guy. (It didn’t work, lol. I shouldn’t have expected to compete with Robert Smith!) But the cost, and the thousands of fans in the stadium, really wasn’t how I wanted to experience that music.
I still love some of the Cure’s music. I could listen to “To Wish Impossible Things” on my Sennheisers (headphones) for hours on end and just trance out or write. But I didn’t enjoy the live renditions; seeing Robert Smith in concert did not set my little Gothy heart aflutter.
I enjoyed seeing Conjure One and Delerium in concert a little more, but once again, it was too many people, not enough room to dance, and not necessarily the songs I wanted to listen to. I think that’s the last time I was at a concert, and that was in my mid 20’s.
Just this past weekend, I had the great fortune in Chicago to host SJ Tucker and Sharon Knight and Winter, some really amazing Pagan musicians whose work I have respected and enjoyed for a long time.
And, like many event planners, I figured I’d just be working the event and maybe I’d get to hear some of the music, which is cool. Us event planners, we’re a little bit of a different stripe of people. We’re like border collies, some of us; we so often don’t get to sit and enjoy the events that we work our tails off to organize, and it’s kind of ok. We get a certain enjoyment out of just being there as the organizer, taking care of the final details. You might call it a sickness.
But, I was surprised to find myself drawn into the music, even songs that weren’t my favorite songs by those artists. I found myself thrilled and surprised by some of the songs they sang that weren’t on any of their cds. And hearing the artists sing and play in collaboration was just cooler than I can describe.
Maybe there was something to it that I knew half the people that attended the event. That I wasn’t alone in a crowd. That there was a tribal, family feel to it. That we were enjoying this music together, that I knew these people who were sharing in the enjoyment with me. I found myself understanding why people come out for these concerts. And why it’s important to make this kind of experience available for people to enjoy.
I also found myself noticing things that I don’t necessarily pay attention to when listening to music on my laptop. Coming out of my speakers, guitar is just, you know, that sound that’s behind the singing, right? Watching Winter’s hands picking out intricate melodies on his guitar was absolutely fascinating to me. I have certainly taken guitar for granted; seeing him play the incredibly complicated sounds with ease was, in a word, nifty. I suppose it helped that he looked a bit like a pirate lord in his bitchin’ coat, but the guitar work was cool all on its own.
There was something different about watching that concert together with a group, with the live energy of the musicians, sharing it with people I cared about. For that matter, SJ bringing my friend Jason Winslade up to drum along with the band was pretty cool too. That sure doesn’t happen when listening to mp3’s on my laptop!
For my part, I’m thrilled and excited to have the opportunity to host more Pagan musicians in the future. Amy and I are already working on nailing down details to bring SJ Tucker and Heather Dale into Chicago on November 15th, and I’m working to find a good date to bring Tuatha Dea to Chicago. Meanwhile, I’m going to do my part as well to help get more visibility for some of these traveling Pagan musicians.
If there aren’t concerts in your area, you might consider hosting a house concert; it’s a great way to help musicians when they are trying to drive across the country from point A to point B to make a little money to throw at their gas tank. Or, you might just consider buying one of their CDs online, or downloading some of their MP3s. Most artists sell MP3’s for $1 each if you’re like me and like to pick and choose your songs, or you can download entire CDs. Consider giving them a good review on your Facebook and putting a link to their CDs. Or even just signing up for their email updates to find out when they are passing through.
These modern day bards survive on the little they make from their music, and being able to make money keeps them in the studio singing and playing, which is the only way we’re going to get more amazing music from them!
In the coming months I’ll be posting some reviews of Pagan musicians.
For the moment, here are some links to the Pagan musicians I mentioned here. They have samples of their music, though you can also find those on Youtube if you want to get a better sense of them as artists. But if you like their music, do consider buying from these artists to keep them singing and playing!
- Sharon Knight & Winter: www.sharonknight.net
- SJ Tucker: www.sjtucker.com/
- Heather Dale www.Heatherdale.com
- Tuatha Dea http://www.tuathadea.net